Common Legal Questions

Arbitration

American Arbitration Association
1633 Broadway, Floor 10
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 716-5800
Customer Service: 1-800-778-7879
Fax: (212) 716-5905

Local Office

Lance K. Tanaka, Vice President
1675 Broadway, Suite 2550
Denver, CO 80202-4602
Phone: (303) 831-0823
Fax: (303) 832-3626
Email: TanakaL@adr.org

The Association offers information about all forms of dispute prevention and resolution including:

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Fact-finding
  • Partnering
  • Dispute Review Boards
  • Other related alternative dispute resolution processes.

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Child Support

Child Support Enforcement Program
Colorado Department of Human Services
1575 Sherman Street, 7th floor
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303-866-4300
Fax: 303-866-4360

According to its website, the mission of the Child Support Enforcement Program is to "assure that all children receive financial and medical support from each parent. This is accomplished by locating each parent, establishing paternity and support obligations, and enforcing those obligations." Information on this website includes issues of paternity, support, health coverage, enforcement remedies and other support programs. Child Support Enforcement Units exist for each county in Colorado to assist with obtaining and enforcing child support orders. You can locate your local Unit at the website listed above.

Some basic information on child support obligations is available from Colorado Legal Services Corporation at http://www.coloradolegalservices.org/co/homepage.html. Click on "Legal Information" and then "Family and Children".

In Colorado, a child support obligation is calculated from the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations. Information on these guidelines and worksheets for calculating child support obligations are available on the Colorado Court web site .

Federal Agency

Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement 
Administration for Children & Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Denver Regional Office
1961 Stout Street, Office 926
Denver, Colorado 80294-3538 
Phone: (303) 844-3100 
Fax: (303) 844-1188 
Head Start Toll Free: 1-866-204-4117
E- mail: region8@acf.hhs.gov

According to its web page, this federal agency administers the Child Support Enforcement Program, a joint federal, state and local partnership to ensure that parents provide support to their children. The program involves 54 separate state and territory systems, each with its own unique laws and procedures. The program is usually run by state and local human service agencies, often with the help of prosecuting attorneys and other law enforcement officials, as well as officials of family or domestic relations courts. At the federal level, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides policy guidance, technical assistance, training and funding to states, operates the Federal Parent Locator Service, which uses computer matching to locate non-custodial parents in order to establish and enforce child support orders, and provides grants to states for child access and visitation service.

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Common-Law Marriage

A common-law marriage in Colorado is valid for all purposes, the same as a ceremonial marriage. Only death or divorce can terminate it. The common-law elements of a valid marriage are that the couples (1) are free to contract a valid ceremonial marriage, i.e., they are not already married to someone else; (2) hold themselves out as husband and wife; (3) consent to the marriage; (4) live together; and (5) have the reputation in the community as being married. The single most important element under the common law was the mutual consent of a couple presently to be husband and wife. All the rest were considered evidence of this consent or exchange of promises. No time requirement exists other than the time necessary to establish these circumstances. When proof of common law marriage is required, such as by an insurance company, a signed affidavit can be presented. For a sample affidavit, click here.

Common-law marriage is a term used to describe a marriage that has not complied with the statutory requirements most states have enacted as necessary for a ceremonial marriage. The name came from the fact that these marriages were recognized as valid under the common law of England. In 1877, the United States Supreme Court stated, in an action that questioned the validity of a nonceremonial marriage, that marriages that were valid under common law were still valid unless the state passed a statute specifically forbidding them. Meisher v. Moore, 96 U.S. 76 (1877). Since the Colorado legislature has never enacted such a statute, Colorado is part of the minority of states that recognize the validity of common-law marriages.

If you desire a legal opinion relating to a specific situation, you should consult your own attorney.

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Concealed Weapons

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation does not issue concealed carry weapon permits: only your local sheriff’s agency has the authority to do so. Questions relating to the issuance of CCW permits should be directed to your local Sheriff’s office, since there may be slight variances in fees and procedures.

Colorado law (C.R.S. § 18-12-213) states that Colorado will recognize a valid permit issued in another state if the permittee is 21 years of age or older, resides in the state of issuance, and the other state recognizes Colorado permits as valid in their state.

The State of Colorado no longer recognizes the validity of any permit issued by any state to a nonresident. (See CRS 18-12-213 amended 2007).

Please see http://cbi.state.co.us/ic/Reciprocity.html for a current listing of states that recognize Colorado permits. For more information on concealed carry weapons, click here.

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Construction Defects

Before instituting a lawsuit against any home builder or contractor, you need to review the language of "The Construction Defect Action Reform Act of 2003,” which can be found in the Colorado statutes at C.R.S., 13-20-801 through 13-20-807. The Act applies to any "construction professional" – including architects, contractors, subcontractors, developers, builders, builder vendors, engineers, or inspectors performing or furnishing the design, supervision, inspection, construction, or observation of the construction of any improvement to real property. Contractual Waiver of certain rights afforded by this Act is prohibited. (13-20-806).

As a homeowner, you may be required to serve a “Notice of Claim” on the construction professional no later than seventy-five days before filing a lawsuit, or no later than ninety days before filing a lawsuit if it involves commercial property. The construction professional must be given an opportunity to inspect the property and to make an offer to settle the claim by payment of a sum certain or by agreeing to remedy the claimed defect described in the notice of claim. The Act also contains limitations on the kinds and amounts of damages you may recover against a construction professional.

A contractor’s failure to pay a subcontractor may give rise to a criminal offense, and should be reported to the appropriate District Attorney’s Office. See “District Attorneys” in this Resource Guide.

Most problems arise when consumers pay a contractor up front. The following are some recommendations for consumers considering construction or remodeling:

  • Check references. Consumers need to be thoroughly familiar with the reputation and work of any contractor hired. References should be obtained and checked.
  • Make specific contractual agreements. The terms and conditions of any project should be put in writing in detail. Specifications regarding materials used, estimated costs, and project schedule should be clearly defined.
  • Never make payment in advance of the work. Any reputable contractor can probably finish a smaller job before payment is made, or begin work with a percentage of the job cost. In any event, payments should be made as the job progresses. In a large construction project, you might consider establishing an escrow account from which only payments for completed work, or a completed percentage of he work is authorized.

One of the common problems in construction is when the consumer pays the contractor, but the contractor does not pay the subcontractor. If the contractor fails to pay subcontractors or suppliers, that contractor could be in violation of C.R.S. 38-22- 127 which requires that contractors hold monies in trust until subcontractors are paid. Any person who violates the provisions of C.R.S. 38-22-127 commits theft, and consumers can contact their local District Attorney for assistance. See “District Attorneys” in this Resource Guide.

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Contract Cancellation

One of the most misunderstood rights under Colorado consumer protection statutes is the right to cancel a consumer contract. In general, there is no right to cancel a consumer contract or purchase. However, there are some exceptions:

In Colorado, you have the right to rescind a transaction under several circumstances:

1 Day
On membership buyer club contracts, even if you sign up at the business. Consumer Protection Act, C.R.S. 6-1-706 (1)(a).

Donation of goods such as furniture, clothing, toys, etc. have a one-day cancellation period. Consumer Protection Act, C.R.S. 6-16-106.

3 Days
This is the usual time period, granted by the Federal Trade Commission rules, for door-to-door sales involving a transaction of $25.00 or more. You must be given written notice of the right to cancel. Details and exceptions to this general rule can be found on the Federal Trade Commission's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov.

You also have three days to cancel on any home solicitation sale, which is a consumer credit sale (not involving a credit card). A consumer credit sale means, in general, a sale of goods, services, a mobile home, or an interest in land in which credit is granted or arranged, and such items are purchased primarily for a personal, family, or household purpose. Uniform Consumer Credit Code, C.R.S. 5-3-401-5, and 5-1-301(11).

A consumer has a right to rescind mortgage loans three days after closing on the loans, pursuant to the Uniform Consumer Credit Code loan, C.R.S. 5-5-203 and the Federal Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1635.

Health club contracts may be canceled in three days after the receipt by the buyer of a copy of the contract. Consumer Protection Act, C.R.S. 6-1-704 (1)(a).

Pledges of cash or purchases made to benefit a non-profit organization may be rescinded within three business days of receiving written confirmation of the contribution from the charity, C.R.S. 6-16-106.

Commercial telephone sellers must allow a purchaser in any telephone sales transaction to cancel any purchase or agreement to purchase goods, services or property within three days after the purchaser’s receipt of goods, services or property. You must deliver or send written notice and return any goods. Notice of cancellation, if sent by mail, is deemed to be given as of the date the mailed notice was postmarked. See C.R.S. 6-1-304 (1)(b).

5 Days
Credit repair contracts (where a fee is paid to a firm for straightening out credit reporting errors) must contain written notice of this right. C.R.S. 12-14.5-108 (2).
Time share or interval ownership contracts may be canceled within five days. C.R.S. 6-1-703.

30 Days
Hearing aids have the longest rescission period for refunds, although the cost of the individualized ear molds is not refundable. Consumer Protection Act, C.R.S. 6-1-701.

You may have other cancellation rights pursuant to your contract or pursuant to certain federal rules. In most your cancellation must be in writing. This is best done by certified mail so that you have an accurate record of your attempt to cancel.

WHAT IS A BUSINESS DAY? Any day except Sunday and official federal/state holidays.

Reminder: Car sales, new or used, are not covered by any statutory right to cancel.

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Gambling

Most forms of professional gambling are illegal in Colorado. In order to help you understand gambling laws in Colorado, the Attorney General and the Limited Gaming Control Commission (in the Department of Revenue) have provided the following “frequently asked questions” about gambling in Colorado:

Q: Is it legal to place wagers over the internet or by calling a toll-free number in Colorado?

A: No. Internet gambling sites and telephone sports books are illegal under state and federal laws. Colorado law prohibits the transmission or reception of gambling information by any means. Federal law also prohibits the use of wire communications in interstate or foreign commerce for the placing of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers. In addition, the Colorado Constitution allows only certain types of “gambling,” which does not include internet or telephone wagering.

Q: What forms of “gambling” are expressly authorized by law?

A: The Colorado Lottery; live and off-track wagering on horse and dog racing events; bingo, raffles and charitable games licensed and regulated by the Secretary of State’s office; limited stakes gaming in casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek, as well as on tribal reservation land; and “social gambling.”

Q: What is “social gambling”?

A: State law allows “social gambling” among participants who have a “bona fide social relationship” and in which all moneys wagered goes out in prizes. A “bona fide social relationship” means that the parties must have an established social relationship based upon some other common interest other than the gambling activity. Further, participants cannot directly or indirectly participate in “professional gambling,” which is defined as “aiding or inducing another to engage in gambling, with the intent to derive a profit therefrom.” This generally means that no one other than the players can profit from the game or activity in any manner. The profit does not need to be direct profit. For example, if a liquor establishment or other commercial enterprise derives increased sales or revenues by attracting customers, even without charging a cover or other direct consideration, as the result of gambling taking place at that business, the business is considered to have profited from the activity and the activity would no longer fall under the social gambling exception. These two criteria—a bonafide social relationship and no profit motive—must be present for a gambling activity to be considered legal “social gambling.”

Q: How can online sites and telephone sports book advertise that they are “legal” and “licensed”?

A: These advertisements tell only half the story. The Internet site or sports book may be legal or licensed where the site or number is set up, usually offshore, so in that respect they are truthful. However, what the advertisements fail to mention is that placing wagers on these sites or numbers is illegal in the United States and Colorado.

Q: Can radio and television stations and newspapers legally accept advertising for “illegal” sports gambling activities?

A: No. Colorado law prohibits intentionally promoting or facilitating the commission of a criminal offense by aiding, abetting, advising or encouraging the offense. Because advertisements for such activity assist and encourage the violation of Colorado and federal law by soliciting customers in Colorado to bet illegally, the advertising would also likely violate Colorado Consumer Protection statutes regarding deceptive trade practices.

Q: Is there anything being done in Colorado to curb Internet gaming?

A: The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission has adopted a policy prohibiting persons and businesses licensed in the casino industry in Colorado from having any involvement with Internet gaming sites that can be accessed by Colorado residents.

Q: What makes a poker tournament legal or illegal?

A: The main distinction is whether the poker being played is considered “gambling.” For “gambling” to occur, three elements must be present: consideration, chance, and reward. These elements are sometimes expressed as “payment, luck, and prize.” The first level of inquiry, then, is whether all three of these components are present, because by eliminating any one of them, the activity would not meet the definition of “gambling” as set forth in Colorado law.

For example, if the consideration component is eliminated and no fee, buy-in or other money is required or solicited from the participants in a poker tournament, then prizes may be awarded to the player(s) who perform well in the tournament. This is how several organized poker tournaments are able to operate legally outside the three gaming towns. On the other hand, if an organization charges a donation, fee or other buy-in for a poker tournament or other event, then it cannot legally distribute prizes based upon who wins or plays well in the tournament or event. Such organization could legally conduct a drawing, door prize or raffle as long as the prizes are randomly awarded and are not tied to success in the tournament or event. Likewise, the organization could legally conduct the tournament for the pure entertainment value alone. By disconnecting the prize from the risk element of the poker or other event, such activity would arguably not meet the definition of gambling.

If all three elements are present, the activity is considered “gambling” and can only be conducted in the context of “social gambling” as previously defined.

Q: Are “charitable” poker tournaments allowed?

A: A misconception exists that if a poker tournament is for charity, or the prizes are donated, the charity could charge for the event. Such an event would still be illegal under Colorado law because the three elements of gambling listed above are present. Although the Colorado General Assembly approved a charitable gambling exception in the liquor code in 1979, it was repealed in 1983 because of the explosion of “charity” events, enforcement issues and problems encountered with the money actually going to the charities.

Q: Who can a person contact if they suspect that they may have an addiction problem associated with any type of gambling?

A: Anyone who believes that they may have an addiction problem with internet or telephone wagering, or any other type of gambling activity, legal or illegal, should contact the Compulsive Gambling Hotline at 1-800-522-4700.

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Landlord Tenant - Security Deposits

C.R.S. 38-12-103  regulates the return of security deposits. The statute requires that a landlord return a security deposit within one month after the lease has been terminated or the surrender of the premises, whichever occurs last, unless a longer time has been specified in the lease (not longer than 60 days). The landlord may retain part of the security deposit for damages, however he or she may not retain any of the deposit for normal wear and tear.

If a landlord believes there is cause to retain part of the deposit a written notice must be given to the tenant listing the exact reasons for the retention of the deposit or the portion. The landlord must send the notice and return the portion of the deposit that will not be retained to the tenant's last known address.

If the landlord fails to provide the notice during the specified time outlined above, the landlord forfeits his right to retain any portion of the deposit. If the landlord unlawfully retains any portion of the security the deposit, the tenant may have the right to sue for triple damages in small claims court.

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Liens

Motor Vehicle Repair Garages
When a motor vehicle repair garage has made repairs to a vehicle, and the vehicle owner has not paid for the repairs, a lien exists. If consumers do not pay their bills, the motor vehicle garage must send a notice (certified) giving the consumer 12 days to respond and pay the bill. If the bill is not paid, the garage can tow the vehicle and hold it until the bill is paid. If the bill remains unpaid, it can obtain title to the car by filing an affidavit with the appropriate County Clerk and Recorder. See C.R.S. 38-20-106.5.

Mechanics Liens
Any subcontractor, vendor, or material supplier who provides goods or services for the construction of your home or for home improvements, is entitled to place a lien on your property if he or she is not paid in full. A mechanic’s lien is enforceable against your property only if a lawsuit is filed within 6 months after the last work is done on your property. However, you may have an affirmative defense to any action to enforce such a lien if you have paid your contractor and satisfied you legal obligations uder your contract with your contractor.

It is always a good idea in connection with any major construction or home improvement project to require your contractor to obtain lien waivers from subcontractors and suppliers or requiring that every check issued by you is made payable jointly to the contractor and to the appropriate subcontractor or supplier.

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Unclaimed Property/Money

Office of the Treasurer
Unclaimed Property Division
1580 Logan St., Ste. 500
Denver, CO 80203
Phone (in Denver): (303) 866-6045
Phone (out of metro area): 1-800-825-2111
E-mail: greatcopayback@qwest.net

Consumers can check with Colorado’s unclaimed property division in the Office of the Treasurer. Procedures are providing for checking to see if there is any unclaimed property belonging to you and the process for acquiring that property. There is no charge for this service. Consumers should be wary of calls or letters from people offering to help you find lost or unclaimed property for a fee.

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Unsolicited Goods

Colorado has an “unsolicited goods” statute. Under the statute, an unsolicited good means a “contractual obligations or other tangible or intangible property or services delivered to a person who has not ordered, solicited, or agreed to purchase them, but shall not include tangible or intangible goods or services which are misdirected, misdelivered, or offered in good faith in substitution for goods solicited by the recipient.” If you receive an unsolicited good, you have the right to refuse to accept delivery of the goods and you are not bound to return such goods to the sender. If they are addressed to you, such an unsolicited good shall be deemed a gift to you and you may use it or dispose of it in any manner you see fit without any obligation to the sender. It is illegal for the sender of an unsolicited good to attempt to bill you or collect for that unsolicited good.

See also “Negative Option Plans ” in this Resource Guide.

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